Ernst Karel is Lecturer on Anthropology, Assistant Director of the Film Study Center, and Lab Manager for the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University. In his audio projects, he works with analog electronics and with location recordings, sometimes separately, sometimes in combination, to create pieces that move between the abstract and the documentary. As an improvisor and performer on trumpet and/or analog electronics, or as a composer, he has participated in recordings released on and/OAR, Another Timbre, BoxMedia, Cathnor, Dead CEO, Formed, Kuro Neko, Locust, Lucky Kitchen, and Sedimental record labels, among others. He is one-half of the electroacoustic duo EKG, and a founding member of the New England Phonographers Union.
Karel collaborates with video and filmmakers as a sound recordist, mixer, and sound designer. He also works as a mastering engineer, having preparing a wide variety of material for publication on CD, including folk music from various cultures, spoken word, new music, and electronic music; he has also digitally remastered several Folkways recordings for first-time reissue on CD on the Locust Music label. In addition to his freelance work, before coming to Harvard, Karel worked as a sound engineer and recordist at the Chicago Cultural Center, and as engineer, recordist, and editor at Chicago Public Radio.
Karel received his BA from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, in Comparative Religion. He received his MA and PhD from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago, where his doctoral research crossed between the disciplines of cultural psychology, anthropology, and ethnomusicology. His fieldwork-based dissertation, Kerala Sound Electricals: Amplified sound and cultural meaning in South India, is a study in the anthropology of sound.